Skip to content

Jamari Traylor’s story, and why he’s so easy to root for

Jun 11, 2013, 2:17 PM EDT

Jamari Traylor, Derrick Nix, Denzel Valentine AP

If there is anyone that you should be rooting for in college hoops, regardless of where your fan allegiance lies, it’s Kansas forward Jamari Traylor.

His story has been told multiple times. To make a long story short (even though you should take the time to read one, or both of those links), Traylor found out that his father got a life sentence for cocaine trafficking when he was a freshman in high school. It sent him on a downward spiral that, eventually, got him kicked out of his mom’s house and forced him into homelessness for about a year. 

If you think you’ve experienced a cold, Chicago winter, imagine spending it sleeping in the back of a rusted out Buick. It got to the point that Traylor was going to school simply so he would have something to eat. With the help of a local high school coach, Traylor was able to pull himself off of the streets and, eventually, to IMG Academy, which led him to Lawrence, KS.

It hasn’t been the easiest two years for Traylor at Kansas, as he had to redshirt his freshman year because he was academically ineligible and spent much of last season glued to the bench. 

But that’s a breeze compared to what Traylor’s already been through in his life. He’s appreciative of his opportunity, enough so that he broke down in tears as he was introduced to a crowd of kids at a Kansas basketball camp this week.

“That’s coach Self. He knows me. He’s proud of me. It’s good for him to share that with the kids, so I understand,” Traylor told KUSports.com’s Gary Bedore. “Sometimes I just get emotional in talking about it. It’s crazy. Little kids look up to me. My life can inspire other people, so it’s a little touching to me.”

Last week, we took a look at the Kansas program and how they have become so successful at developing players at the college level. Self should expect nothing less from Traylor, who is a terrific athlete that has a high-level motor and doesn’t have an issue with working hard to improve. 

He may make the NBA one day, and he may not. But the bottom line is that he is an inspiration, an example that even those in the worst situations can make it out.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Kansas, Indiana on opposite sides of 2015 Maui Invitational bracket

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:12 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Potentially four top-25 teams will be in the 2015 field.

  2. Colorado State’s Antwan Scott granted sixth year of eligibility

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    Grambling State Grambling State

    Scott averaged 15.7 points per game for Grambling during the 2013-14 season.

  3. Nik Stauskas trolls Ohio State fans, claims Thad Matta didn’t know who he was (PHOTO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The former Big Ten Player of the Year (inaccurately) trolls Ohio State fans

  4. Top two 2017 recruit Michael Porter Jr. dunks all weekend (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 10.29.28 AM

    It’s pretty obvious why people like Porter.

  5. Highlights of Wenyen Gabriel, who’s been offered by Kentucky, Duke (VIDEOS)

    Jul 27, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.15.47 PM

    Gabriel was the biggest stock riser for the month.

  6. Ron Baker was the best college player for Team USA at Pan-Am Games

    Jul 27, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT

    baker Getty Images

    Denzel Valentine and Taurean Waller-Prince also played well in stretches.

  7. Ole Miss star guard arrested for DUI over the weekend

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Stefan Moody was the leading scorer last season for Ole Miss.

  8. Jamal Murray’s Pan-Am Games highlights (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:39 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The hype surrounding Murray as a prospect has never been higher.

  9. Wichita State forward working hard to improve offensive repertoire

    Jul 26, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    wichstkelly Getty Images

    Rashard Kelly averaged just 2.9 points per game last season. With Darius Carter and Tekele Cotton gone, he’ll need to do more in 2015-16.

  10. Following acquittal, Rick Brunson discusses son Jalen’s recruitment to Villanova

    Jul 26, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    Jalen Brunson AP

    Villanova had been Jalen’s favorite for a long time according to his father Rick.

  11. Former Memphis forward Austin Nichols transferring to Virginia

    Jul 26, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT

    Austin Nichols (AP Photo) Austin Nichols (AP Photo)

    Nichols picked Memphis over Virginia the first time around, and once the Tigers dropped their transfer restrictions many expected him to land in Charlottesville.

  12. Four-star Class of 2016 guard Zach Norvell scores 53 points, drops 14 3-pointers in Las Vegas (VIDEO)

    Jul 26, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Jon Lopez/Nike Jon Lopez/Nike

    Chicago native Zach Norvell had one of the best games of the July live evaluation period on Saturday night by scoring 53 points and knocking down 14 3-pointers.

  13. Devonte’ Graham dunks on a kid at Kansas basketball camp (VIDEO)

    Jul 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Devonte Graham AP

    The lesson here is don’t smack talk Devonte’ Graham if he’s your camp counselor.

  14. United States wins bronze at Pan-Am Games

    Jul 25, 2015, 5:46 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Ron Baker and Taurean Waller-Prince played well for the Americans.

  15. UMass commit Unique McLean wins dunk contest with ridiculous under-the-legs finish (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    unique

    UMass commit Unique McLean threw down a ridiculous dunk contest slam in front of a sea of people.

  16. 2016 small forward Lamar Stevens focusing on eight schools

    Jul 25, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Jon Lopez/Nike Jon Lopez/Nike

    The Team Final rising senior tweeted out his list Friday morning.

  17. Friday Las Vegas Recap: De’Aaron Fox, Charlie Moore have monster games

    Jul 25, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    (Jon Lopez/Nike) (Jon Lopez/Nike)

    A pair of Class of 2016 lead guards put together great games on Friday night while a two-sport athlete and the younger brother of an SEC guard also stood out.